Song of the Week – People Make the World Go Round, The Stylistics

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The Stylistics were one of the best soul groups of the early ‘70s. They scored numerous hits that crossed over to the pop charts on the strength of lead singer Russell Thompkins Jr.’s falsetto, the work of ace producer Thom Bell, and the songwriting by the team of Bell and lyricist Linda Creed. Between 1971 and 1974, they charted an impressive series of consecutive R&B Top 10 hits, including:

Stop, Look, Listen (#9 R&B, #39 Pop)
You are Everything (#10 R&B, #9 Pop)
Betcha by Golly, Wow (#2 R&B, #3 Pop)
I’m Stone in Love with You (#4 R&B, #10 Pop)
Break Up to Make Up (#5 R&B, #5 Pop)
You’ll Never Get to Heaven (#8 R&B, #23 Pop)
Rockin’ Roll Baby (#3 R&B, #14 Pop)
You Make Me Feel Brand New (#5 R&B, #2 Pop)

The best was 1972’s “People Make the World Go Round” (#6 R&B, #25 Pop), today’s SotW.

Bell and Creed’s orchestral style was often reminiscent of the Bacharach/David team. (Dionne Warwick probably agreed since she popularized so many Bacharach/David songs and also recorded a hit with the Bell/Creed penned “You’ll Never Get to Heaven.”) The similarity is especially evident in “PMtWGR,” with its use of mixed time signatures.

The track also follows the early ‘70s trend originated by Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder to write songs that reflected social issues of the day; in this case, addressing inner city issues like garbage and bussing strikes, and air pollution.

Trashmen didn’t get my trash today
Oh, why? Because they want more pay
Buses on strike want a raise in fare
So they can help pollute the air

The story behind this song’s chart success is that it was originally an album track, not intended for release as a single. But so many fans demanded radio airplay that the label rushed the record into release as a single. That was a good decision!

Enjoy… until next week.

2 thoughts on “Song of the Week – People Make the World Go Round, The Stylistics

  1. I love the soul music of the early 1970’s, song after astounding song, but I never liked the soul ballad groups, these guys and The Chi-Lites and Bloodstone. I remember one night I was tripping with a bunch of people watching the Midnight Special because the Dolls were on, so that would be the summer ’73 or ’74. Bloodstone came on to do their hit “Natural High.” About ten people thought the falsetto in the chorus was the funniest thing of all time. We laughed till it hurt, again and again, every chorus. I still laugh when I hear it. It’s one of the few songs in the genre I can listen to.

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